Another Awesome Rehearsal

I just got back this evening rehearsing with the band for Converge “Hear the Nations Worship” night. It was another time of refreshing in God’s presence.

I came to the rehearsal with quite a great deal of stress. I was busy at work, but also busy trying to finalise everything for Converge and my mind was in a million different places. And then I caught a cold. So I took today off work (it should have been sick leave!) to try to organise the songlist for our rehearsal. I also thought I would spend some time with the dog as well as she was starting to feel neglected with all our busyness and filled-out schedules.

But it was like all the stress melted away as we worshipped. We began just by simply praying together which really helped us maintain our focus. After a couple of tricky fast songs (which required a good deal of concentration) we came to the turning point when we started Stephanie Truscott’s gospel worship set. There’s something about gospel music that just gets your toe tapping and body moving. And I sensed that God began to imbue us with a sense of freedom as we sang “I’m So Glad, Jesus Set Me Free”.

As we started worshipping to “Beautiful Saviour” there was just a wonderful overlay of vocals singing the names of God and I just felt like I was spirited away into another realm. It felt like the song that never ends. As we went back into the bridge “I could sing forever, Jesus I love You”, we’d be hit a with a new wave of praise bubbling over.

It was such a beautiful time.

I really am blessed to be serving with such a wonderful and anointed team.

So let me introduce you to the team facilitating the Converge Day of Worship Finale (sorry I forgot to take a photo this time):

// Worship leaders: Me, Pastor Yoy Alberastine (Faith Community Church/Sonlife Church), Shaw Cheong and Stephanie Truscott MOSAIC Church)
// Vocals: Me, Pastor Yoy, Shaw, Stephanie, Ling, Wai Kin Wong (Full Gospel Assembly)
// Bass: Jon Teoh (FCC) (he just joined us tonight and he’s awesome!)
// MD and keys: Daryl Tan (Firstlight)
// Electric Guitar: Chris Mayne (Lifestreams Church)
// Drums: Ash Tie (New Covenant Community)

And here is the mega songlist in case you are preparing:

// Ancient of Days
// You are Good (Israel Houghton)
// Hosanna (Brooke Fraser)
// You’ll Come
// I See the Lord
// I Exalt Thee
// Gospel Worship with Stephanie Truscott
// Messianic Worship with Kathy Susnjar
// Beautiful Saviour
// Worthy is the Lamb
// You Deserve the Glory
// Shout to the Lord
// African Worship with Arlene Gregory
// We Speak to Nations
// How Great is Our God World Edition (in English, Mandarin, Malay, Tagalog and Zulu)

I think the last song is a significant prophetic enactment and prefigurement of what will happen at the end of time when the nations gather before the worthy Lamb who was slain, giving Him glory, honour, power, wisdom, strength and blessing.

I’m really looking forward to Saturday!

Five Years of Total Awesomeness

Five years today, I married the love of my life and my best friend.

It’s been an incredible journey so far.

It all started on 5 May 2007 (well, at least our marriage did; our relationship started well before that) at the Fremantle Town Hall. We wanted a wedding where worshipping God was the focus. So we deliberately chose not to have any messages or exhortation – it would be just worship.

This is what we put in our wedding program:

A Note about Worship

The starting point for living is worship. Harold Best observes that “worship is at once about who we are, about who or what our god is and about how we choose to live.” At any given time, everyone everywhere is worshipping someone or something. Ling and I have chosen to dedicate our lives to worshipping Jesus Christ. So, today’s service is so much more than being about us; it is first and foremost about glorifying God who brought our lives together.

One of the most significant ways in which Christians have been called to express our worship is through praising God in song. Early on in our Christian walks, Ling and I have felt the calling in our lives to minister in music. So today’s ceremony is very much an extension of that but moreover, an extension of who we are. It is therefore our privilege to be able to lead you in an extended time of singing.

We appreciate that many of our guests today are not Christians. We make no apologies for how we have chosen to conduct this service because we wanted it to be about God. However, we do invite you to participate. The songs we sing may be unfamiliar to you, and it might feel strange for you to sing, but I want to encourage you to ‘let loose’ and give it a go. If anything else, allow the words and meaning of the songs to minister to you.

For those of you who are Christians, we encourage you to bring your best offering of praise to God. We would like nothing better than to join with you in giving glory to the God of all blessings.

Finally, we would like to thank the wonderful team of musicians and singers who have volunteered their time and energies in making this possible. They are anointed servants of God and we are privileged to be able to call them co-labourers and friends.

We assembled an awesome team of great friends and anointed worshippers and Ling and I had the privilege of leading our wedding guests into worship. It really was a dream team: on vocals we had me, Ling, Joanna, Yvonne, Juls (who also played violin) and Stephanie Truscott. Elayne and Mabes took the keys. Darren and Edmund on guitars. Boon on bass. And Clem on drums. Derek did the AV.

I still enjoy reliving the day. But every time I ask my friends over to watch our wedding DVD, Ling tells me off. So here are some shots from the day.

Here is the set list:

// Opening Prayer – Shaw Cheong

// Oh Happy Day – led by Stephanie Truscott

// Everyday with You, Lord (Sweeter)

// Friend of God

// Scripture Reading: Psalm 16 – Louis Ong

// Joy of My Desire – with Yvonne Mohan on lead vocals and Julien Lim on violin

// How Great Thou Art

// When I Think About the Lord

Of course, that day was just the starting point of an incredible journey over five years.

I have had various mentors and inspirations in my life, but none compares to Ling. She sees me at my best, my worst and my most mundane. She encourages me to pursue everything that God has in store for me and sacrifices so that we can both live out God’s calling to the full. She pulls me back when I get too far ahead of myself; she gives me the look when I’m being stupid and compromising my witness; she asks if I’ve done my devotion. She inspires me to press forward by her own faith in God. And she makes me smile often, and quite regularly does silly things to make me laugh – and laugh hard! She is the funniest person I know. Apart from the Holy Spirit, she is the most inspirational worship leader of all – because of her, I am living out all that ministry that is worship, not just on-stage, but also off-stage.

So happy fifth anniversary Biggles! Love ya lots. We will break open our fifth anniversary wine later! May there be many more bottles of anniversary wine to come!

Blessings Reel – February 2012

I’m a few days late, but reflecting on the month that’s passed, I am amazed by the goodness of God in our lives.

As I have said, this year is the year of Unceasing Fruitfulness. And like the Tree of Life in the book of Revelations which bears twelve different types of fruit, we can expect twelve different manifestations of blessings each month of 2012.

A fruit has its origin in the seed. Once the seed is planted, it germinates and grows into a tree. When the tree is mature, it begins to bear fruit. The DNA of the fruit however is in the seed. In other words, an apple seed can only bring forth apples.

Our seed however is Christ, for in Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

Galatians 3 says that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for “cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (v13). Paul goes on to say that Christ redeemed us in order that we might receive the blessing of Abraham.

In verses 16ff, Paul says:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds”, meaning many people, but “and to your seed”, meaning one person, who is Christ.

The blessings of obedience to the law is now available to us through the Seed, i.e. Christ, not because of anything we can do, but because of God’s grace through faith. So we can expect to receive blessings of health and healing, prosperity, peace, salvation, favour, divine help, guidance, wisdom, God’s presence, joy etc through Christ, the originator of all blessing.

For me February has been a month of closures. On one day at work, I had three complicated cases come to closure, the most spectacular of which was a guy who had claimed that he was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his ex-wife. When the Immigration Department assessed his claims, they said that he did not have a strong case. To be honest, I didn’t think he had a strong case. But I responded to the Department’s concern the best I could. After several weeks, I was still not optimistic; I thought his case could be rejected at any time. But to my surprise, and quite miraculously, the Department agreed with my submissions and granted him permanent residency. He was so happy he started telling everyone what a great day it was, including the guy who made us coffee at the coffee shop!

But the greatest closure for us was the fact that we had finally found a church to belong to after 7 months of wandering. And we sense that as one chapter closes, a new door has opened for us in Faith Community Church and we are excited as to what the future holds.

So I’m thankful to God for the blessing of new beginnings.

As we move forward in this chapter, I want to finish off this post by acknowledging some wonderful people who have walked alongside us, supported us, encouraged us and dialogued with us over the last 7 months, in no particular order: Ps Daniel Ho, Ps Judy Low, Shaw Cheong, Wai Kin and Anna, Joanna and Dan, Bernard and Vicki, Pastor Yoy Alberastine, Pastor Binh Nguyen, Pastor Benny Ho, Wendy Yapp, Cao, Cindy, Joe, Jos, Louis, Mons, Stephanie Truscott, Derwin, Derek, Jenn Yong, Joy, Samson, Addie, Sharon, Adrian and June, Esther, Matthias, Dave and Yvonne, Juls, Jade, Esther, Bryan, Clem, Drew, Amy, Alan, Adrian, Matt, Jess, Pastor Koon Hee and Jin, Darren, Chi Yen, Edmund and Sharon and so many more of our friends who had coffee with us, hung out with us, served with us and just generally poured into our lives during this last season: even if it was just over a meaningful meal together. We learnt a lot and heard your hearts. Thanks so much for sharing in the journey!